It started out as an experiment.
When my car died 10 years ago, my husband and I wondered what would happen if we didn’t replace it, but shared our other car instead.
We lived close to inner Brisbane and close enough to our workplaces that we thought we could make it work.
By our back-of-the-envelope calculations, our savings on running costs, rego and insurance would put us ahead even if we needed to use a few ride-shares each week, in addition to the cost of public transport.
And of course we’d save the cost of the vehicle too. What did we have to lose?
And if all else fails, with the savings we’d make, we were fortunate that we could choose to buy a second car if we needed to — not everyone has that luxury.
The experiment began
Most days, my husband would drop me at work and I’d walk home — my daily commute became my exercise too.
On weekends and days off, one of us rode a bike or took public transport if we couldn’t use the car.
Fast forward 10 years and one baby later, we’re still living with just one car, and it turns out we kind of like it.
At the start, we were motivated by saving money, and without a doubt we’ve saved a lot over the years — close to $7,000 a year by my estimate.
But over time, we’ve discovered a heap of other benefits that we didn’t contemplate when we set out.
For starters, we’re fitter than we’ve ever been. Sharing the car means we’re more inclined to think about active ways to get to and from our destination.
Often that means walking or riding a bike, or even just walking to the bus stop, which is such an enjoyable way to travel.
A different kind of commute
Over the last few years, I’ve ridden my bike to and from work most days. I’m lucky that my workplace has end-of-trip facilities that make it possible.
I love how much time I get to spend outdoors as part of my commute and it’s great for the environment too.
It also encourages us to live locally. Whether it’s a cafe, playground or a trip to the shops, we’re much more likely to choose somewhere close by.
Often, we’ll catch ourselves choosing to walk or ride even when we could drive. Walking to a nearby restaurant is a great way to spend time connecting as a family.
It’s a mindset shift to slow down too.
But there’s been challenges along the way and it’s not for everyone.
Plan, communicate and be flexible
At first, we found we needed to be intentional with communicating who needed the car at nights and weekends, but over time this has become a normal part of our rhythm.
A shared calendar certainly helps us know where our other half is planning to be.
For us, a one-car lifestyle is made possible because we live near buses, trains, and a network of bikeways that connects us to the city. The recent damage to cycleways caused by the devastating Brisbane floods has been unfortunate for us as we now must wait for many of paths to be rebuilt.
Occasionally we’ll request a lift from a generous friend or family member.
It’s certainly more complicated now there’s a little one on board. A new family member who needs his own car seat is an interesting challenge, that’s for sure!
But, like all aspects of new parenthood, we’re navigating this one day by day.
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